Category Archives: Multicultural Community

Silly National Holidays {and how to use them in the classroom}

chocolate covered bacon!

Anyone want to celebrate Chocolate Covered Anything Day?

by Diane Burdick, Ed.S

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Thanksgiving and Christmas may be over, but that’s just fine by me because I recently discovered a new favorite holiday. And although I’ve been celebrating the spirit of this day for many (many) years, I didn’t know there was an “official” holiday for it until recently. It can be summed up in one glorious word: CHOCOLATE.

That’s right, December 16 is “National Chocolate Covered Anything Day.” So of course I celebrated it with gusto this past month. And it got me thinking: what other lesser-known holidays are out there languishing without celebration?

A little digging led me to discover the answer: quite a few! Many of these holidays are silly, most are funny, and almost all are downright perfect for a teachable moment. Here are a few lesson ideas, based on January’s wacky holidays:

January 10: “Peculiar People Day”

Look up the word “peculiar” in the dictionary. Have students copy the definition and then write their own definition in their own words below it. Younger students can then draw a peculiar person, and older students can create a description of a peculiar person.

Since peculiar people aren’t boring in the least, be sure to brainstorm a list of colorful synonyms and adjectives to describe peculiar people. For example, you could ask children to consider what would make a basketball player peculiar from his teammates (height, or lack thereof), or what might make a ballerina peculiar (clumsiness, huge feet, a mohawk, etc.). They can write a “peculiar person paragraph” and illustrate it. Or, better yet: have them trade paragraphs with a classmate and illustrate each other’s based on the descriptions! 

January 15: “Hat Day”

Provide magazines and have students search for hat pictures, cut them out, and make a “wacky hat” collage. Older students could research styles and fashions of different eras and see what types of hats were popular in each era. What was the purpose of each type of hat? For example, why are cowboy hats so different from baseball caps? Why did women used to wear hats to church? Why are Kentucky Derby attendees famous for wearing hats? Or add in a little math: What’s the average hat size in your classroom?

January 23: “National Handwriting Day”Girl writing with colored pencil

Practice using your best handwriting to write thank-you notes to people in the school. Brainstorm a list of seldom-thanked staff members (media specialist, janitor, cafeteria workers, front desk receptionist, etc.) who might appreciate a well-penned note.

January 25: “Opposite Day” 

Have fun with this one! Students can practice talking in opposites, or you can give instructions in opposites (“Stand up,” “Put your books away,” “Don’t write this down”). Give a sticker or small prize to the student who most successfully figures out and follows the correct instructions all day.

Here are some other wacky January holidays to get your creative juices flowing!

January 1: First Foot Day and Z Day

January 2: Run Up the Flagpole and See if Anybody Salutes It Day

January 3: Festival of Sleep Day

January 4: Trivia Day

January 5: Bird Day

January 6: Bean Day

January 7: Old Rock Day

January 8: National JoyGerm Day and Man Watcher’s Day

January 9: Play God Day

January 10: Peculiar People Day

January 11: National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day

January 12: Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day (couldn’t find a good explanation of this one…but it sounds fascinating)

January 13: Make Your Dream Come True Day (love this!)

January 14: National Dress Up Your Pet Day

January 15: Hat Day

January 16: Hot and Spicy Food International Day

January 17: Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral Day

January 18: Winnie the Pooh Day

January 19: National Popcorn Day

January 20: National Buttercrunch Day

January 21: National Hugging Day (awww)

January 22: National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day (bizarre-o!) and National Blonde Brownie Day

January 23: National Handwriting Day, National Pie Day, and Measure Your Feet Day

January 24: Eskimo Pie Patent Day

January 25: Opposite Day

January 26: Australia Day

January 27: Punch the Clock Day

January 28: Rattle Snake Round-Up Day

January 29: National Cornchip Day

January 30: Escape Day

January 31: National Popcorn Day (just in case you missed it on the 19th! :)

Whichever holiday you choose to celebrate and integrate into the classroom, we’ll be excited to hear about it! Leave a comment about what you’ve already celebrated, or the holiday you plan on bringing into your classroom in the new year.


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Filed under Classroom Community, Classroom Decor, Crafts, History, Holidays, Multicultural Community, Uncategorized

fall printable placemat + shared reading idea!

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Who doesn’t love a good free printable? Especially ones as cute as these! Click the images below to download a {free} printable version of these super cute fall-themed ideas. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Placemat


activity: So cute for the class Thanksgiving party! The children can complete, color, and use at their place at the table. How cute would these be laminated? {click the image for a downloadable pdf}

Printable Thanksgiving placemat

Fall Shared Reading Activity


activity: After practicing these predictable sentences together during shared reading, give this sheet to the students to practice reading on their own. They can color the corresponding pictures after they read the sentence. We love that kinderlatino provided the sheet in both Spanish and English, too! {click the image to download.}

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Filed under Fall, Holidays, Multicultural Community, Thanksgiving

Spring is in the air…all around the globe!

adapted from ideas submitted by Kelli Lewis

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Want to incorporate multiculturalism into your lessons this spring? Why not take an imaginary trip around the world and visit another country, in your very own classroom?


Ask students: Do you want to journey on an imaginary trip to Vietnam to participate in the Chu Dong Tu Festival? Or what about to India to visit the festival of Holi? That’s what we’ll be doing today.

Background Research

What are some things that any festival typically includes? (decorations, food, activities and games, etc.) If you were going to help prepare for these two festivals in India and Vietnam, what would you need for your trip? Allow students to research these events and countries to create a supply list for their trip. What will the weather be like in the country on your day of travel? How should you ‘pretend pack’ your bag in order to prepare?


In Vietnam during the Chu Dong Tu Festival (which celebrates one of the four Vietnamese “immortal heroes”), girls wear traditional dresses and hats, and then they act out a story.

1. Read aloud a story about Vietnam and allow student volunteers to act it out as you read. This is very engaging…and also encourages adept listening ears! Here are a couple favorites:

Grandfather’s Dream, by Holly Keller. A warm tale that takes place in a rural Vietnamese village.

The Lotus Seed, by Sherry Garland. A hopeful tale about a Vietnamese refugee, told by her granddaughter.

2. An alternative spin on acting out a tale is to allow students to act out traditional American tales (which they all know). First, write the names of several common stories (like fairy tales) on strips of paper. Arrange students into groups of four and allow each group to draw a story strip, which they will then act out. Give each group about 30 minutes to prepare ideas, and then have them act out their “skit” for the class. They are guaranteed to be silly…but lots of fun!


India’s festival of Holi is a celebration of colors! During this exuberant and blissful spring festival, participants dress in old clothing and toss colored powders and colored water into the air, rubbing the colors into their clothing and skin, as a celebration of good and light over evil.

1. Allow students to bring in old clothes, preferably light colored (some old white shirts from Dad work great!). Or, ask for old light-colored sheet donations, and cut them into makeshift tunics for your students.

2. Get permission from the administration first, and then find an area outside (like an empty parking lot or grassy area). Give each student a small cup filled with colored water (just a drop of food color mixed in a cup of water should do fine…you don’t want too much!). Then, they can throw their water up into the air, so it rains down colors…just like in India! Using dried, colored grits (add food color to dry grits) is another idea for something colorful (but biodegradable) they can throw.

3. Of course, throwing colors is messy (although the children LOVE it!), but if neater is more your speed, you could opt for colorful art, instead. Students can finger paint and “splatter” paint with water colors on white paper by flicking their brushes. They can also use colored dry grits to create collages by drawing a design on paper, adding glue, and then sprinkling the colored dried grits onto the glue.

4. Then, students can hug each other and say “Happy Holi!”–ushering in the warm spring weather, India-style.


Filed under Activities, Art, Classroom Community, Multicultural Community, Reading, Seasons

Chameleons of Our Own

by Rachel Stepp

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One of my favorite books about colors and chameleons is A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni.

This book is a short picture book about a chameleon that is different from other animals because he does not stay the same color all the time. He comes up with a plan to stay one color, but it doesn’t work. Finally, he finds a chameleon friend that can always be the same color as him as long as they stick together! The story is cute and colorful. Once you have read the story to your class, you can discuss colors, emotions, and feelings about being alike or unlike others.

Art Activity

You can also incorporate art through an activity related to this book. Talk to your students about what they would like the chameleon to camouflage into. You will be creating these ideas through making “rubbings.” Here’s how:

  1. First, cut out chameleon shapes from thick cardstock paper.
  2. Place a cut-out for each child under a piece of white computer paper.
  3. Next, the students will make “rubbings” of the chameleon shape on the white paper with their crayons by taking their crayon and coloring with it on its side. You might need to peel all of the paper off of the crayon before you can do this.
  4. Encourage your students to be creative with their chameleon. They can color it like objects around the room, their own clothes, and so much more! For example, you might want your chameleon to blend in with a watermelon. To do this, you would color part of your chameleon green, part red, and add black seeds.
  5. When you are done coloring your watermelon slice, you will be able to see the outline of a chameleon.

Science Tie-In

Once you’re on the topic of chameleons, you can talk about reptiles and the things that chameleons blend in with. Send your class on an outdoor nature hunt to look for chameleons or other lizards. Encourage students to look under leaves, in grass…and even on the school building! You can bring art outdoors and let your students do tracings of leaves and other textures outside, as well.

Social Skills

If you’re not feeling crafty or you can’t go outside, you can relate A Color of His Own to the social skills in your classroom. You can discuss friendship with your students and the importance of finding friends that you feel comfortable around. Also, you can talk about how students, like animals and chameleons, are all different from each other. The students will enjoy comparing themselves to the story!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia who often shares her good ideas on A Learning Experience.


Filed under Activities, Art, Classroom Community, comprehension, Multicultural Community, Reading, reading aloud, Science

Creating a Bilingual Classroom

by Rachel Stepp

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Do you have a classroom with students that speak a native language other than English? Most schools have programs for these students where they are pulled out of the classroom several times a day in order to learn English. You can help these students, and educate your other students, by creating a bilingual environment in your general classroom.

Label Your Environment:

In your classroom, you probably have simple things such as “book bags,” “paints” and “computers” labeled in English. Why not put a label next to that one in another language, such as Spanish? This is simple and will create a bilingual, text-rich classroom where students will be able to explore the sounds and spellings of words in other languages.

If you have a calendar time each day, label your calendar (days of the week and months of the year) in Spanish as well as English. Teach your children the Spanish version of the “Days of the Week” song.

Language Lessons:

Teach your students basic words and phrases in an alternate lesson and use those words on a frequent basis. Spend about 15-20 minutes once a week teaching your students new words in an unfamiliar language. You can teach them commands such as “Look at me!” and “Sit down!” so that you can use the phrases on a daily basis. You do not have to become the foreign language teacher, but you can spend a few minutes enriching your students.

Ways to Impact all of your Students:

These activities will not only be beneficial for your ESOL students, but it will also enrich your native English speakers. Talk about different cultures and diversity in your classroom. Allow students to bring in artifacts and share traditions about their families’ cultures. For the native Spanish speaker in your class, this will help them realize that their culture is important and that while learning English, they should work to preserve their native language and culture.

These ideas are just the beginning to enriching your classroom culture. If you are nervous about bringing another language into your classroom or if you need help translating something, ask your school’s ESOL teacher to help you. The ESOL teacher can also help you translate letters and announcements for parents. Embracing your community’s cultures will help to bring everyone together in a society where students are encouraged to be proud of their heritage.

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia and a regular contributor to A Learning Experience. Lucky us!


Filed under Classroom Community, Cooperative Learning, Multicultural Community